In December 2014 Enterprise M3 was invited, along with Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, to give evidence at a public session of the Airports Commission in relation to the expansion of Heathrow. Enterprise M3 used this as a valuable opportunity to raise the profile of the LEP and to put forward the business viewpoint on the importance of airport expansion in the South East to economic growth and the success of businesses in the Enterprise M3 area.
Prior to the public session, Enterprise M3 and Thames Valley Berkshire agreed to give a joint statement of evidence. The key message was that the economy of both areas would be adversely affected if there is not an increase in capacity at Heathrow and therefore both LEPs believe that the Commission’s recommendation should be for the provision of a single hub airport at Heathrow.
As part of the Enterprise M3 evidence, Geoff French explained that the impact of Heathrow Airport is felt throughout the whole Enterprise M3 area: 9,700 Enterprise M3 area residents work at Heathrow (this is 14% of the total Heathrow workforce), the area includes the district of Spelthorne that borders the southern boundary of Heathrow airport and is therefore most directly affected by any expansion proposals. Proximity to Heathrow Airport is a therefore critical economic driver for the Enterprise M3 economy but this could be eroded by a range of problems that threaten to stall growth such as lack of capacity and connectivity issues at Heathrow. Geoff also explained that businesses in the Enterprise M3 area have repeatedly told the LEP that the provision of additional runway and terminal capacity at Heathrow Airport, along with associated surface access improvements, is of vital importance to their ongoing economic success and that they would look to relocate away from our area if the airport no longer provided the services and facilities they need.
Enterprise M3 also provided a formal written response to the Airports Commission consultation in February 2015. This was based substantially on the written statement presented at Heathrow, emphasising the economic benefits of expansion at Heathrow Airport and pressing for a quick decision by Government as we have been told repeatedly by business that uncertainty on this is holding back economic growth in the area. This process has also led to an agreement between Enterprise M3 and local authority partners in the area of the need to develop an infrastructure plan for Heathrow that that will be needed regardless of whether the Airports Commission gives the go ahead to either of the Heathrow options. Enterprise M3 will work with the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and the London Enterprise Panel to press for the Government to make an early decision once the Airports Commission publishes its recommendations. We will also be pressing Heathrow and the Government to invest in infrastructure at Heathrow regardless of the decision made.